E3: Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes

Send in the clones.

It's sad to admit it, but kids today probably couldn't pick Admiral Ackbar out of a police line-up. And that's just the start: they couldn't tell you where Endor is, or explain why you should never accept the offer of a timeshare in Alderaan either, and they'd almost certainly struggle to provide any useful information regarding the Millennium Falcon's performance on the Kessel Run.

To this wayward generation, Star Wars means The Clone Wars, the animated TV show that currently has such a hypnotic hold over today's two to 11 year-old boys that, should George Lucas ever turn to the Dark Side himself, he'll likely find himself with a ready-made army of brainwashed children itching to do his bidding. I hope that puts swine flu in some kind of perspective.

Clone Wars is the version of Star Wars that already looks like a videogame: the blocky, angular, stylised Star Wars with lots of purple in the colour palette, and a bunch of the same characters who were in the prequels clogging up the cast listings. If you went to see any of the original films on their first release runs, chances are Clone Wars isn't aimed at you, but although Activision's forthcoming licensed title isn't aimed at you either - the developers have, rather understandably, targeted it an audience of two to 11 year-old boys - it's actually looking like a relatively decent kids' adventure nonetheless.

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Obi-Wan's beard appears to be sculpted from a block of wood - one of the many perks of mastering the Jedi arts.

Or maybe that should be two relatively decent kids' adventures. The first Clone Wars game, last year's Wii turkey Lightsaber Duels, was a limited offering, stumbling over unresponsive motion controls and limping through its short campaign as if a tauntaun had stepped on its foot. (I am now entirely out of Star Wars references, unless an opportunity to work Bib Fortuna in somewhere pops up in the next few minutes.) This one looks like a more involved affair, a multi-platform release with a plot that bridges the gap between the first and second series of the TV show, focusing on a mysterious danger posed by a "techno assassin", and offering you two different single-player storylines to play through, following both Jedi and clone trooper trajectories.

It sounds like a recipe for character reskins and padding, then, but LucasArts appears to be putting the work in this time, each campaign using entirely different control schemes and mechanics. And if you're not excited at the prospect of that, perhaps you haven't spent enough time being a two to 11 year-old boy recently.

The Jedi campaign foregrounds lightsaber combat and simple platforming, with the main twist coming in the form of what LucasArts is referring to as "Droids as toys", a system that allows you to hijack any of the game's robots and turn their abilities to your advantage. Don't expect Water Temple levels of creativity: the example we're shown has Anakin leaping on top of a turret droid, before coaxing it into mowing down an oncoming wave of enemies, but there's a fair bit of variety promised, and the accompanying animation is excellent - the young Darth Vader (spoiler?) is a dainty ballerina of death as he leaps onto the droid's head before jamming his lightsaber into the poor thing's brain and then using it as a joystick.

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